How to Manage a Kanban Backlog With Trello and Asana

If you’re anything like us at Unito, you have about a million feature requests in your backlog (well, actually, 571 as of today). Also, if you’re anything like us, you have them in more than one project. It’s not easy to convert several Asana projects from traditional lists to a Kanban backlog board. With last week’s launch of Asana Boards & Sections support, you can now do it in Trello. Use the power of Unito to connect Asana and Trello and organize your backlog, Kanban-style, in a jiffy.

Why would I even create a Kanban backlog in another tool? You’re crazy!

There are a few reasons this is a cool idea.

  1. Share only part of your backlog with a Trello board with clients or higher-ups. That way you can share your progress with them automatically. This keeps them in the loop and eliminates the dreaded status meeting or email.
  2. Working across teams in Trello for planning. A lot of folks love the simplicity of Trello and may find Asana a bit too much. They can work in Trello where they’re comfortable and you can still have all of the advanced Asana features you like for project management.
  3. Create a high-level roadmap in Trello as a work overview for the whole company to know what’s happening and what’s planned to happen soon. Put it on a big-screen TV near your office entrance and keep the whole company aligned around delivery.

And I’m sure you can think of more for yourself.

How to do Kanban backlog management in Asana projects with Trello:

  1. Multi-home all your kanban backlog requests into a new project in Asana. Call it something like “Backlog planning”. The shortcut for that is Tab + P.
  2. You’ll want to sort this jumble of many projects in some convenient fashion. Make 3 sections (or more, it’s your project ?): “To Do”, “Done”, and “Backlog”. If you want to use a power user feature, create these sections in your master backlog first. Then as you are you can assign each item to its relevant section in the “Backlog Planning” project.
  3. Create a Trello board. Make a list for each section you created in Asana. If you’re following along with this guide, that’s “To Do”, “Done”, and “Backlog”.
  4. Set up your sync with Unito! Connect your “Backlog Planning” master project in Asana to your new Trello board. We’ll use the Trello board for quick Kanban backlog planning. On the final screen of sync setup, click on the “Customize now” checkbox and then on “Customize Sync”.
  5. Go to “Fields” and click on scroll down to “State ← → List”. Click on the little gears icon. Make sure that the right lists in Trello map to the right sections in Asana.
  6. You’ll notice that you created 3 section headers in Asana, but there are 5 “states”. You also have a “No section” and a “Complete” section as well. Why? Backlog items can be above the section headers. They can also be completed without changing their section. Trello needs to know what to do with those items, too. So make sure they’re mapped to the right lists.
  7. I put “Backlog” at the end of the Trello lists and at the bottom of your Asana list. That’s because the backlog isn’t the most important part of your Kanban backlog. That doesn’t sound intuitive at first. The “To Do” is the most important part of your backlog. It’s what you’re working on right now. I like to put it first, and put the giant list of backlogged items at the very end. That way I am only tempted to look at it during weekly grooming.

That’s it! You’re done! Whenever you have a new product request in any Asana project, multi home it into “Backlog Planning”. From there, you can manage its state in Trello when you’re ready to go through backlog grooming.

Any comments or questions? Hit us up in the comments below or find us @unitoio on Twitter.